Saturday, December 02, 2006

What Happened in the Garden? Part 1

The temptation in the Garden of Eden was a unique circumstance, but hardly a unique tactic. In fact, temptation works on us (and succeeds) today just as it did then. Consider this brief look at Satan’s tactic.

Satan turned freedom into a restriction. God said, “You may freely eat of all but one.” Satan said, “Did God really say, You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?” Temptation often begins by focusing on the restrictions of godly living rather than on the freedom of godly living. He ultimately gave the first pronouncement that God’s revelation is subject to human consideration. Today, this is as common as the air we breathe. One of man’s most common sins is to subject the revelation of God to his own mind, in the demonstration of his belief in human autonomy: that man possesses the ability to render judgment on God’s revelation.

Having planted a question about God's word, Satan overtly attacked God. At its heart, every temptation is ultimately an attack on God and God’s way of living. Satan’s attack on God in the garden took two common tactics. In fact, every temptation can probably be categorized under one or both of these tactics.

1. Satan denied the truth of God. Where God said, “You shall surely die,” Satan said, “you shall not die.” It was for Eve (and Adam standing silently by) an issue of truthfulness. They had a choice to make about who was telling them the truth.

Every temptation ultimately brings a choice about whether or not God is telling us the truth about sin and its consequences. When we believe God, we say “No” to temptation. When we say “Yes” to temptation, it is an indication that we really do not believe God. It might be a lack of belief about the seriousness of the particular sin (or whether it is even sin). It might be a lack of belief about the consequences of sin. We have chosen to believe that God is not telling us the truth. We have, in effect, called God a liar.

2. Satan questioned the goodness of God. He told Eve, “God just does not want you to be like him.” He was accusing God of withholding from Eve (and Adam standing silently by) something that they needed to have their lives fulfilled. Satan was in effect telling Eve that God was trying to protect His turf, and prevent anyone else from being like God.

Every temptation ultimately illustrates our belief in the goodness of God. If we believe that God has given us everything we need to be everything he wants us to be, then we will say “No.” If we say “Yes,” it is because we believe that God has not given us something that it is our right to have, or something that we need to make our lives fulfilled.

We are long removed from the Garden, but sin still works the same. It deceives us into believing that God is lying, and that God is not good.

So guard yourself. Be wise in the face of temptation. Foresee the evil and avoid it. And believe God more than you believe yourself.

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